(Chris Pobst, Staff)
"I expected big things this year, but definitely not a 17-4 record at the end of the season," he said. "It's a special group of boys and we definitely have high hopes going into the post season."
With the Class 2, District 1 tournament kicking off Monday, the Bulldogs have had a historic journey getting there and obtaining their first-ever No. 1 seed.
"We have a great group of kids this year," Noe said. "They're very coachable and hard working."
The wealth the Bulldogs have reaped this year stems from a season ago. It was Noe's first year as head coach and under his guidance, Noe wanted to implant a few new strategies as well as a new attitude when it came to expectations on winning.
"After my first year last year, we tried to do a few different things and we could kind of see the change in their attitude, they had the skill and they knew each other," he said. "Towards the end of that year, they started to figure it out. They started buying into the winning and the confidence it takes to do that. We had a great year last year and it carried over."
Although they began this year with a somewhat slow start with a 3-3 record, it didn't take long for them to regroup and figure out what type of team they could potential be.
Their 17 wins is the most by any team in school history. They have also won 13 of their last 14 games.
"We went through some early season things while trying to get some young guys to fit in there," Noe said. "But, we finished strong and have a lot of confidence in the way we are playing now."
The Bulldogs are fortunate to have a core group of experienced and talented seniors, as well as a crop of excitable young players. Players such as Hunter Williams, Josh Bill and keeper Michael Gipson have came together nicely with underclassmen Tyler McClinton, Brandon Goodwin and Stephen Baker.
"They've been able to gel and play together," Noe said. "There's not a lot of selfishness out there and that's an easy thing as a coach to deal with. It's a huge positive."
If there's one player, however, the Bulldogs can point to as almost indispensable its Williams.
Williams leads Sikeston with 23 goals, and thats while constantly drawing the defensive eye of every opponent they've played this season. Double teams and triple teams rarely slow him down as the fleet-footed senior cuts and dashes past defenders with little to no worries.
"A lot of coaches don't get kids like him," Noe said about Williams. "He's a leader and the kids look up to him. He just walks out on the field and they kind of look to him. He's a great player and he's been a great player for four years. He's the guy that other teams key on and he expects that. Other guys play off of him and that elevates their game.
"He's one of the better players that have ever played for me," Noe added. "It's great to have a player like that on your team."
What makes Williams that much more deadly, is his unselfishness.
While dealing with the pressures of opposing defenses, Williams simply passes off to one of the slew of teammates that have the same ability to punch it behind the goalie as he does.
"I've got a lot of talent out there," said Noe. "Those guys can definitely excel in that kind of deal where Hunter takes some of the pressure off and draws the attention of the defense."
One of those players has been Brandon Goodwin. Goodwin has emerged as one of Sikeston's most viable offensive threats. His coming out party was a game against Fredericktown, the Bulldogs' first district tournament opponent, where he knocked in seven goals in a 10-0 rout of the Blackcats. That's the most in a single game by a Sikeston player in school history.
"Early in the season, I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but he was only averaging around 15-20 minutes a game," Noe said about Goodwin. "Now, he never comes off the field. Although he's very capable of doing what he's doing, a lot of that is because of Hunter. A lot of teams key on Hunter and they don't really know a lot about Brandon. But, he's very capable and a lot of times he gets one on one coverage."
In limited games because of his little playing time early in the year, Goodwin is Sikeston's second leading scorer with 21 goals.
"As good a player as Hunter is, Brandon may be a better finisher and just having a knack for the goal," Noe said. "He makes a lot of teams pay because of the attention they're giving Hunter."
With guys like Williams and Goodwin scoring goals left and right as well as a defense that stifles opposing teams with lightening quick deflections and suffocating one on one pressure, the Bulldogs are the favorites going into the district tournament on Monday at Perryville against Fredericktown at 5 p.m.
They have defeated Fredericktown twice already this season. Both times have been lopsided affairs.
"They have some kids that can play and some talent," Noe said about Fredericktown. "They have two kids up top that work well together. They're a little young and unexperienced in the back and we've kind of made them pay for that in the past. Hopefully, we can do the same going into districts."
Although they will not look over the Blackcats, Noe said he and his players can't help but think about whose on the other side of the four-team bracket.
Their longtime rival, the Notre Dame Bulldogs, will battle third-seeded Perryville at 7 p.m. also on Monday.
"Any coach would be lying if he said he didn't if you see your big rival on the other side," Noe said. "We've got a lot of goals this season and we've accomplished a lot of them. But, one of our big ones is a district championship and we've love it to go through Notre Dame.
"They're a solid team," said Noe. "They got us last year and they got us earlier this year on penalty kicks. They're the defending district champs and until somebody beats them, they are still the team to beat.
"We always keep them in the back of our mind. But, whoever wins that game will be a tough opponent for us, if we're lucky enough to get by Fredericktown."
Class 2, District 1 at Perryville
(1) Sikeston v. (4) Fredericktown, 5 p.m.
(2) Notre Dame v. (3) Perryville, 7 p.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.